TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy named Secretary of State Tahesha Way to be the state’s next lieutenant governor, a month after Sheila Oliver died after a short hospitalization.
Way’s appointment takes effect immediately because the state constitution doesn’t require Senate approval for the nomination. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner swore her in Friday outside the governor’s office.
Her top duty will be filling in for the governor when he’s out of state or incapacitated, or if he can no longer serve. But she will stay on as secretary of state, overseeing elections as well as the state museum and archives. Under the constitution the lieutenant governor also holds a Cabinet position.
Way, accompanied by three of her four daughters and husband Charles Way, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve and promised to keep the cost of living down and to protect fundamental freedoms.
“I will dedicate every day of my life to fighting for the forgotten families of our state,” she said.
As secretary of state she oversaw the implementation of early in-person voting as well as the 2020 election, which occurred almost entirely with mail-in ballots because of COVID-19 restrictions.
She succeeds Oliver, who died last month of unrevealed causes after a short hospitalization while Murphy had been out of the country.
Way, Democrat like Murphy, has served as secretary of state since the start of Murphy’s administration in early 2018. She was previously special counsel to the Passaic County Board of Social Services.
She’s a graduate of Brown University and the University of Virginia School of Law and previously served as a county officeholder in Passaic and an administrative law judge.
Way is just the third person to hold the post of lieutenant governor, a newer state government position that began under previous Gov. Chris Christie.